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Fall of the Indigo Jackal, The

The Discourse of Division and Purnabhadra's Pancatantra

McComas Taylor

Publication Year: 2007

Every child growing up in India knows the story of the jackal who fell into the vat of blue dye, and discovering the power of his majestic new appearance, declared himself king of the forest. In spite of his pretenses, the jackal, eventually betrayed by his own instincts, was set upon by the other animals. This and many similar narratives are found in the PanÅcatantra, the collection of Sanskrit tales for children compiled by a Jaina monk named Puµrn|abhadra in 1199 CE. In this book, McComas Taylor looks at the discourses that give shape and structure to the fall of the indigo jackal and the other tales within the PanÅcatantra. The work’s fictional metasociety of animals, kings, and laundrymen are divided according to their jaµti, or “kind.” This discourse of caste holds that individuals’ essential natures, statuses, and social circles are all determined by their birth. Taylor applies contemporary critical theory developed by Foucault, Bourdieu, Barthes, and others to show how these ideas are related to other Sanskritic master-texts, and describes the “regime of truth” that provides validation for the discourse of division.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii

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p. ix

I would like to thank my friend, mentor, and colleague Dr. John Powers for the confidence and encouragement that he extended to me at the outset of this project and for his inspiration, guidance, and good humor, which have sustained me through it. My thanks are also due to Dr. Richard Barz, Dr. Adrian Burton, and Dr. Ian Proudfoot, for sharing with me their...


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p. xi


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pp. xiii-xiv

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-41

A jackal who had fallen into a vat of indigo dye decided to exploit his marvelous new appearance and declared himself king of the forest. He appointed the lions and other animals as his vassals, but took the precaution of having all his fellow jackals driven into exile. One day, hearing the howls of the other jackals in the...

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2 The Discourse of Division in the Pañcatantra

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pp. 43-98

In this chapter, by undertaking a close reading of Pūrṇabhadra’s Pañcatantra, I will examine the ways in which the discourse of division is articulated. Beginning with an overview of the concept of jāti as used in this text, I will then describe three aspects of the ...

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3 The “Regime of Truth” and the Pañcatantra

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pp. 99-154

The story of the indigo jackal and the other narrative units of the Pañcatantra are obviously fictional, but what they seek to convey, both implicitly and explicitly, are normative “truths.” We must assume that the creators of the text “believed” in what they were trying to achieve, that the discursive thrust of the narrative embodied...

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4 The Discourse of Division and the Brahmanical Archive

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pp. 155-182

We have now described the discourse of division as it relates to the story of the indigo jackal and to the Pañcatantra as a whole, and we have seen how the discourse functions as “true.” Where did the ideas of division, essential nature, status, and enmity originate? How do they relate to the broader cultural context of the brahmanical...

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5 Conclusion

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pp. 183-194

In these concluding remarks, using the story of the indigo jackal as a metonymy for the discursive patterning of the Pañcatantra narrative as a whole, I will summarize the main findings of this investigation, and suggest some avenues for future...

Appendix 1

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pp. 195-196

Appendix 2

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pp. 197-212


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pp. 213-218

Glossary of Sanskrit Terms

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pp. 219-222


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pp. 223-232


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pp. 233-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780791479766
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791471777
Print-ISBN-10: 0791471772

Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 174144956
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Fall of the Indigo Jackal, The

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Caste in literature.
  • Sanskrit literature -- History and criticism.
  • Panchatantra.
  • Pūrṇabhadra. Pañcatantra.
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